FG begs foreign airlines to use Kaduna airport

FG begs foreign airlines to use Kaduna airport
Transport Minister, Rotim Amaechi

The Federal Government on Monday announced that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja would be closed in the early hours of Wednesday.

It said that adequate preparations had been put in place to secure passengers who would be travelling from Kaduna to Abuja during the six weeks when the Abuja airport would be shut.

This was disclosed in Abuja  during a ministerial press briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika; and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

During the closure of the airport, the government said that Abuja flights would be diverted to Kaduna, but gave an assurance that adequate security would be provided by the Police and other security agencies for passengers.

The government also said it had pleaded with some foreign airlines to rescind their decisions not to fly to the Kaduna International Airport during the closure of the Abuja airport.

It listed Lufthansa German Airlines and Turkish Airlines among the international carriers that it was in talks with, adding that the Kaduna airport’s facilities had now met global best standards.

Sirika, who disclosed this in Abuja, stated that the NAIA runway reconstruction would gulp over N5bn, adding that this was why it was important for the concession of the facility as well as other major airports across the country in order to enhance their capacity to deliver excellent services.

The minister said Ethiopian Airline was the only foreign airline that had expressed its readiness to fly to the Kaduna airport so far, adding that “we expect more to operate to the airport.”

Sirika said, “So far, we have Ethiopian Airline, which not only has confirmed their coming, but they said they would be coming with a brand new airplane, the latest aircraft in the whole world, a Boeing 787.

“We are still talking with Lufthansa and Turkish Airline on their intent to come. We may conclude today and at the end of the day, we will know if they will or not.”

He added, “We have calibrated the landing systems in Kaduna airport. All the open items spotted by international airlines have been closed. We have a mobile control tower in Kaduna. We have a good runway there.

“The terminal building and very important personality lounge are almost ready. We have provided free buses and rail transport for passengers to and from Kaduna. We are good to go with regards to airport logistics.”

In a notice signed by the minister and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, Sirika stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the provision of complimentary bus and train services to passengers travelling to and from Kaduna.

He said, “This is to inform the general public that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja runway will be temporarily closed for operations between March 8 and April 19, 2017. The six weeks’ closure is part of our continuous efforts to guarantee the safety of passengers and aircraft.

“During the period, traffic would be diverted to the Kaduna International Airport and adequate provision for passengers’ facilitation has been put in place for ease of travelling. Please, note that details of international and domestic flight schedules by individual airlines and all relevant information regarding the closure can be found on the website: www.abujaairportclosure.info and some select print and electronic media.”

Sirika reiterated the Federal Government’s plan to give out all the airports through concession for efficiency, beginning with the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports.

“We have already concluded the arrangement for the appointment of a transaction adviser that will commence work in a matter of weeks,” he added.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, told journalists in Abuja that the train services between Abuja and Kaduna would be rearranged to suit the flight schedules at the Kaduna airport.

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